Running Repeat?

Girls country team hopes to win another championship

Victoria+Heiligenthal+and+Nicole+Grindling+proudly+holding+the+state+championship+trophy.
Victoria Heiligenthal and Nicole Grindling proudly holding the state championship trophy.

Victoria Heiligenthal and Nicole Grindling proudly holding the state championship trophy.

Rob Heiligenthal

Rob Heiligenthal

Victoria Heiligenthal and Nicole Grindling proudly holding the state championship trophy.

Maddie Kobylski, Social Media Manager

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Rob Heiligenthal
The Mavericks celebrating winning the first girls state championship at the Michigan International Speedway.

Every sports team has the same dream: to make it to the State Championship. Aside from having the honor to experience this final showdown of all the best teams in the state, actually winning States is a feeling like no other. For Milford’s own girl’s cross country team that feeling is very familiar and has had a lasting impact on their lives. But what happens after finally achieving what you’ve put in countless hours working towards? What does that mean for the next season?

This season‒just like every other season‒ is marked as “an opportunity to add to the legacy of the program,” said Brian Salyers, head coach of both the boys and girls cross country teams. Although the Milford Cross Country program as a whole has been well-known for its continuous success with many top-10 finishes at the State Meet,last season sealed the legitimacy for the program as a whole, with both boys and girls teams now claiming a State Championship.

However, just because the team has reached its goals doesn’t mean the bar has dropped. The expectations are still the same: runners are putting their best effort forward to help the team.  With over half of the top 7 girls returning, there’s large opportunities for success. Junior Victoria Heiligenthal realizes this, stating that there’s increased pressure to perform well this season because there is now a big target on Milford’s back.

“This season is more important because we are ranked first, now we’re trying to beat ourselves,” Heiligenthal admitted. Because she knows how good it felt to walk away from that State Meet, she is determined to feel that same way leaving this November.

With hard work comes large rewards. In order to be the best team in the State, the members of the team have had to sacrifice many other social aspects of their life.  Summer training starts in late June, and every day from there on out is devoted to running. Senior, Nicole Grindling, knows the dedication necessary in order to, “achieve excellence,” one of the team’s mottos. She’s used to putting the team before herself with two-a-day practices, early morning long runs, and lifting on Sundays. After having a meet the day of the Homecoming dance every year, she’s used to getting ready quickly. Grindling notes that this season’s goal is to have the team injury-free and together, because the “expectations for success are in our reach now.”

Grindling, entering her final season on the team feels many emotions. Being a senior on the team requires a lot of leadership and encouragement, something she’s enjoyed having since she joined the team as a freshman. She’s taken a lot from this excellent program,“This has been such a big part of my life for the past four years and I’m lucky to have experienced so many wonderful things that have led me to be the person I am today,” she reflected.

 

Rob Heiligenthal
Victoria Heiligenthal and Nicole Grindling proudly holding the state championship trophy.

Even after winning a championship, the girls  still have the same high level of expectations for this upcoming season. Salyers notices the unwavering level of dedication and focus that all the girls on the team share while they maximize their opportunities. To him, there is no losing in cross country because there is so much more behind the sport than running. “If we win more State Championships, or we don’t win any more, it’s not going to change the way we approach the sport or the way we approach kids.¨

The team is currently 6-0 in the new Lakes Valley Conference and preparing every day for the root of their competition: the conference and regional meets. November 4 is the state meet, where all the hard work will be worth it.

 

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